The two tacticians from diverse backgrounds are reported to be leading the race to succeed Stephen Constantine at the helm of the national team.

India finished their AFC Cup campaign dismally but you can never forget the drubbing they delivered to Thailand. Sunil Chhetri and his young cohort gave the best example of their ability in an utterly memorable second-half performance. 

But, due to the exit, Stephen Constantine resigned and called time on his second, frankly quite successful reign as the Indian gaffer. His highlight this time around was introducing the slew of youngsters, who went on the light the stage on fire at the Asia Cup.

But he was often critiqued for his long ball, soaking pressure tactics. India are looking forward to appointing a coach who instils a new, more exciting philosophy at the helm. There are two prevalent rumors going around and are gathering quite the steam.

Stephen Constantine stepped down as the head coach of Indian football team after the Blue Tigers’ AFC Asian Cup exit

The names being bounced around are those of one popular figure and one unknown man. Albert Roca is someone well-respected in the Indian Football fraternity, but South Korean Lee Sung-min barely gets recognition. 

These although are primarily rumours and as Kushal Das in a recent interview asserted, that the next manager will not be announced before May end. But of course we have sources in the right places and those very close to the developments have divulged these two names anonymously.

Having said that, we at Khel Now decided to debate these two names and pitted Punit Tripathi against Uttiyo Sarkar to debate in favour of Albert Roca and Lee Sung-Min, respectively. They were provided with five points and this is what each had to say….


Punit Tripathi

Albert Roca is your custodian, the go-to guy when you want to win matches and tournaments. He may not be flamboyant and elegant with that dash of nonchalance, but he fully knows the roles he anoints his players expects them to make sure they play it right. Slow, progressive build-ups, more vertically than diagonally, is a key aspect of his game.

Albert Roca is one of the four shortlisted candidates for the next head coach of Indian football team

Roca usually plays a static 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, with just four players on the top half of the pitch contributing to the goal-scoring activities. That has been the usual trend of teams under him, except the dynamism of Erik Paartalu, who was given the license to bombard into the box to use his heading abilities to the fullest. Thus, you can expect him to be out-of-the-box at times, but mostly, the Spaniard will stick to the book and churn out patient results for the team.

Uttiyo Sarkar

As noticed during the Asian Games success for South Korea U-23 last year, Lee Min-Sung encourages his players towards a positive, attacking brand of football. He prefers a more incisive passing-style, keeping things grounded and rarely relying on long balls from the back. Preferring a 4-3-3 formation which sees a defensive midfielder cover his defenders and central midfielders patrol the attacking half, his side love to work the ball into the box.

With quick passing and a fast-paced tempo to his attack, he allows his players to enjoy themselves on the field. Setting up, he prefers his central midfielders to help his creative attacking midfielder to fling the ball into the flanks or into the box. South Korea U-23’s wingers showed a preference to cut back into the box, while his system encourages wing-backs to go forward all the way into the final third and fling in crosses. His system relies on quick thinking, smart movement and wonderful interplay to create beautiful goals.


Punit Tripathi

Roca is a man who practices what he preaches. He runs with the team at the beginning of most training sessions, and makes sure he manages a fitness level of himself. On the pitch, he’s unusually calm, and always, always pensive. The 56-year-old is always thinking, and that’s one of the best figuratives a manager can be associated with. He ensures that his sides function with the best discipline as well, except the odd blemish.

Football is a hard man’s game, and that odd-incident, that may happen to anyone, is not triggered by Roca. His captain at Bengaluru FC, Sunil Chhetri, embodies that as well. No drama, just football. Results matter, and no matter what you do on the pitch, playing good football can only get you that. The Indian national team, under the similarly-disciplined Stephen Constantine, has done well in the recent past and with Roca’s style, they are bound to get better.

Uttiyo Sarkar

A former South Korean international, Min-sung embodies ruthless discipline in his side. He manages his team to create a special bond, often looking after one another and working to each other’s strengths. His team displays impressive work-rate, showcasing energy and passion in their games. Whilst defending, he makes him team peg deep like a unit, creating a five-man defence wall and midfielders putting pressure on the opposition.

While his players are persistent in pressing down opposition, they’re never looking for intentional fouls. Neither does he tolerate an aggressive output in games, making his players put in clean challenges and never going overboard with their intensity. A clever man manager, the former South Korean defender tries to integrate his own values into the team in being gracious in presence, yet ruthless in the output.

Development of Indian players

Punit Tripathi

Rahul Bheke would credit him for the ‘mini-resurrection’ and Udanta would credit him with the chances – such has been Roca’s influence on one of the most-improved duos in Indian football in the last couple of seasons.

Udanta Singh has been one of the standout performers in the Indian football team in recent times

The man was at the helm of Bengaluru FC and has time and again used fringe players to good effect – like Harmanjot Singh Khabra. The Punjab-born footballer’s career was going nowhere after that infamous goal in the 2012 derby, but his inclusion in Bengaluru FC in a new role has given him a new lease of life. Every Indian player he has worked it has adapted well, and that shows his ability to mould roles, or at least get the best out of players. Peach of a man-manager, also, with no dressing room discomforts whatsoever.

Uttiyo Sarkar

Working with the U-23 South Korea team, Min-sung knows when and where to spot exciting young talent from. He played a big role in bringing together South Korea’s dominant team which won Gold at the Asian Games and have floored teams in recent months. Exciting individuals like Kim Jung-min, Lee Jin-Hyun, Kim Jin-ya all received debuts under his guidance as assistant manager. Hwang Hee-chan also bloomed over after he arrived.

He believes in giving youngsters the freedom to express themselves and has a real eye for talent. This can be great for putting more emphasis on the grassroots level of football and into the development of youth players. He can also work wonders with the Indian Arrows core, while also handing chances to the likes of Komal Thatal, Sahal Abdul Samad, Joby Justin and Michael Soosairaj. He’ll grant opportunities to a varied range of players, making the most use of promising young talent in the country.


Punit Tripathi

He took Bengaluru FC to the AFC Cup finals, and a lot of people treat it to be higher than the Indian Super Cup trophy the club collected with him at the helm in 2017-18. During the continental run, the club looked clinical in phases, and resolute in others – both virtues of sides that aspire to reach the podium to lift trophies.

Roca knows how to win trophies, and how to reach the latter stages of difficult tournaments – he’s shown that to Indian audiences already. He creates a winning momentum, and always looks to win. That’s something the Indian national team will certainly be better off with.

Uttiyo Sarkar

Lee Min-sung might not have experienced much success as a team coach in the club level, but ended up being on the winning side during his stint as Korea Republic’s U-23 assistant manager. He helped the Taegeuk Warriors towards the Asian Games Gold medal last year, making sure that Son Heung-min doesn’t have to serve military service as a result.

His experience of winning top tournaments in the International level can be a big positive for the Blue Tigers. He knows what it takes to take his side all the way, making him a decent option in expecting to get some silverware from.


International experience

Punit Tripathi

The former FC Barcelona assistant manager has worked at the Saudi Arabian national team as an assistant, giving him a hands-on taste of top-flight Asian football. He has, later, managed the El Salvador national team, adding to his experience at the international level. Roca has contributed well to the growth of football in both nations, and was well advertised by his former employers.

India certainly have a man on their hands who knows how to handle the national crest’s responsibility, to tread with respect and discipline, and to win matches with the right, rigid approach. Given Roca’s subtle love for defending, the core of the national team under Stephen Constantine wouldn’t be too worried. The attackers, though, would be expecting new responsibilities as a bonus.

Uttiyo Sarkar

After working for nearly eight years in the club level, Lee Sung-min got the opportunity to work as assistant manager for the South Korea U-23 team. He gained a lot of experience under Kim Hak-bum, whose expertise was a big learning curve for the 45-year-old gaffer. Sung-min was also allowed the opportunity to scout some top talents and get the best out of them, working alongside Hak-bum to make the Tigers of Asia the best in the continent.

Apart from having won the Gold Medal in the Asian Games, Sung-min has experience as a player as well. He was part of the 2002 South Korea team which finished 4th after an inspired campaign. The 45-year-old definitely knows how to work in the international level, having a stark knowledge in how to succeed in cup competitions. He also knows how to identify prime talent and get the best out of them in international level, allowing his sides’ to be attractive to watch.


Punit Tripathi

Conclusively, Roca looks set to be a better option for the managerial post at the Indian national team. The man, he has shown, allows the passing-play, with defensive rigidity a property that helps him save games and churn out goalless draws against bigger and better opposition. Against upsets, his never-say-die attitude has time and again changed losses into draws and victories.

Uttiyo Sarkar

Granted that Lee Sung-Min might not have actually been the head coach of any side yet, but his work as an assistant manager has been inspiring in international level.  In just over a year acting as the assistant manager for the Tigers of Asia, he helped elevate them into a well-oiled machine.

He played a decisive part in allowing the South Korea U-23 team to attain dominant form in Asia, working really well in giving rise to some prime young talents. The 45-year-old could make a transition akin to Carlos Queiroz, using his expertise to allow the Blue Tigers to grow into a formidable cog in Asian Football.